Ijaz Shah new IB chief
ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Wednesday appointed Brig (r) Ijaz Shah the new Intelligence Bureau (IB) director general and transferred his predecessor Wali Muhammad.
Mr Shah was earlier the Punjab home secretary. However, there was no notification of who would replace him. There is speculation in the Punjab Civil Secretariat that three officers on special duty Sheikh Habibur Rehman, Hassan Wasim Afzal and Salman Ghani could be appointed to the post.
Punjab Forests Department Secretary Sajid Hussain Chattha is another possibility. Of course the Establishment Division could also post a bureaucrat from some other province. Brig (r) Shah is well known to President Musharraf for a long time. He was also the Inter-Services Intelligence’s (ISI) Lahore chief in 1999. French journalist Bernard Henri-Levy mentions his name in the book on American journalist Daniel Pearl.
Mr Shah is also said to be close to President Musharraf’s Principal Secretary Tariq Aziz. Both Mr Shah and Mr Aziz are thought to have advised President Musharraf against holding the referendum in 2002 and were ignored for some time for their contrary views. Later, President Musharraf is said to have acknowledged the wisdom of their advice.
After he was bypassed for promotion to Punjab Chief Secretary some months ago, Mr Shah agreed to go to Australia as Pakistan’s high commissioner this year. But President Musharraf accepted the current high commissioner’s plea for a year’s extension in tenure. It was also thought that perhaps the Australians were not too keen on welcoming a former ISI official as the high commissioner. This dampened Mr Shah’s prospects and he soon acquired a low profile in the Punjab government.
Mr Shah’s appointment as head of the IB means that he will be back doing the sort of job he is said to do best. It will also bring him close to President Musharraf again. In fact, in view of the recent assassination attempts on the president, the appointment suggests that President Musharraf wants an astute friend in the IB.